which commands all the prominent communications of the State of Texas, and will be the center of operations of the rebel when they are completely concentrated. This was the point of operation. It would have separated the rebel forces of Louisiana and Western Texas, and also those of Galveston, from the Arkansas army, and, although not geographically the center, it would have placed us in such a position as to have made impossible here leads us to believe that there will be a concentration of the rebel forces in the State of Texas. They have upon their pay-rolls 55, 6000 men west of the Mississippi; so it is reported, but, I am sure, with exaggeration.
The movement upon Shreveport and Marshall is impracticable at present. It would require a march from Brashear City of between 400 and 500 miles. The enemy destroying all supplies in the country as he retreats, and the low stage of the water making it impossible for us to avail ourselves of any water communications, excepting upon the Teche as far as Vermillionville, it would require a communication for this distance by wagon trains. Later in the season, this can be done, making Alexandria the base of operations, but it could not be done now. The rivers and bayous have not been so low in this State for fifty years, and Admiral Porter informs me that the mouth of the Red River, and also the mouth of the Atchafalaya, are both hermetically sealed to his vessels by almost dry sand bars, so that he cannot get any vessels into any of these streams. It is supported that the first rise of the season will occur early in the next month.
I am satisfied that if we could have placed our force at Houston, as contemplated, it would have prevented the concentration. had the army relied upon itself exclusively, the failure at Sabine City would not have occurred. It was perfectly feasible to land below at any point on the coast between Sabine and Galveston Bay. The instructions of General Franklin contemplated this, but the naval officers were so perfectly confident in regard to their information of the fortifications at Sabine Pass, that their boats were disabled and in the possession of the enemy before any other course was contemplated. It was equally practicable to march from the coast, between the Sabine and Galveston, directly to Houston, as from Beaumont to Houston, and a landing could have been effected without difficulty. It would have been repeated immediately, but the failure had given to the enemy so much notice that he was able to concentrate his forces to prevent a landing at that point. It left me no alternative, therefore, but to move across Berwick Bay in the direction of Opelousas, for the purpose of taking a route westward to Niblett's Bluff, on the Sabine, or to advance north to Alexandria, Shreveport, and Marshall, in accordance with the suggestion which yo have made both now and heretofore.
I make this explanation in regard to Sabine and Houston, as your letter implies that Sabine City was the contemplated position which we intended to assumed. Sabine City did not enter into our original calculations at all, and was only contemplated by the navy as a point of landing.
The boats asked for have been received, and relieves us very much in the matter of transportation. I will pay attention to your suggestion in regard to official communications by mail, and avoid the expense incurred by special messenger, except in cases of great importance.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,